Confirmation bias, scienceyness, inflated expectations and damaged research. When will this madness end?

Scienceyness creates inflated expectations; distorting the original research findings by misinterpreting raw data and applying these new inaccurate and misinterpreted “findings” to reaffirm pre-existing beliefs.

Within the fields of psychology and cognitive science, this phenomena is termed confirmation bias (or confirmatory bias). Which is a tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions, leading to statistical errors. Confirmation bias is a type of cognitive bias and represents an error of inductive inference toward confirmation of the hypothesis under study. Confirmation bias is a phenomenon wherein decision makers have been shown to actively seek out and assign more weight to evidence that confirms their hypothesis, and ignore or disregard evidence that confutes their favorite personalized hypothesis. As such, it can be thought of as a form of selection bias in collecting evidence streamlined to suit and legitimize one’s personal beliefs.

Confirmation bias

In the process, the intended and desired research becomes damaged, which only ends up hurting those who recklessly shared the misinterpreted “science” in the first place.

Ironically, those in the rumor mill are often the very same people who passionately declared how much they “care” about objective research studies and are committed to productive un-biased and open-minded discussions about science.

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This is one of the many reasons why I’m considering moving to Europe. The increasing popularity of erroneous yet obstinate and proud “brave” opinions of Americans who think they know everything about science, as well as being convinced of knowing all of the “answers” to everything in science (because they do experiments on themselves with an n of 1, like Food Babe), has nearly irreversibly exhausted my patience for nonsense.

After spending a week in Canada, at the Keystone Symposia on DNA Replication, Recombination and Repair, communicating with scientists from all over the world (who live outside the US) I’ve learned how the US is unique in it’s increasingly popular anti-science/pro-conspiracy culture.

I encourage you to read the entire article (I’ve shared below) but here are a few important points:

“The project [Human Brain Project] lost a huge amount of credibility — and a huge amount of grant funding — because people got overly excited about a story they hadn’t bothered to check out.

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“Scienceyness blurs the distinction between accurate sources and inaccurate ones. It creates inflated expectations that actually damage the reputation of scientific fields over the long term.

Real people have lost their jobs because of irresponsible scienceyness promotion. Entire projects have lost funding, and have had to pack up important work, because laypeople unknowingly spread false information about what they were working on.

In short, when you share science headlines without taking a few minutes to check what they actually mean, you are putting the reputations and livelihoods of your favorite scientists in danger.”

“Favorite scientists” who end up feeling so abused and insulted by the nebulous and rigid posturing (of the anti-science/facts community) that they end up simply accepting the fact that having a productive open-minded discussion, whereby evidence based information is considered, is neither possible nor serves any useful purpose.”

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Reference to original article that inspired this post:

medium.com/@writingben/a-disease-of-scienceyness-7b5571a34953

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